Deeply rooted in Cote-des-Neiges, Project Genesis connects individual services with community organizing to bring concrete improvements to people's lives.
EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY - Social Rights Workers, Individual Services - click here
Our community works together
In the year 2009/10, we increased our community organizing work on housing and welfare issues. Members of our Anti-Poverty Committee and Housing Rights Committee are key to our community organizing success. The committees continued to act on the social causes of the large increase in interventions we've been experiencing at our individual services drop-in centre, which we call the "Storefront". In the same spirit, the Outreach team - composed of 20 multilingual volunteers - closely collaborated with the Storefront.
Outreach door-knocking program
• Discussions held with over 400 local tenant households, by knocking at 1,000 doors;
• Information was offered on many issues, including heating problems, vermin infestations, rent increases and evictions;
• Visits made to buildings subject to municipal inspections were identified by the Storefront or referred by our members.
The Anti-poverty Committee: fighting poverty by ...
• Taking part in a large public response to the Quebec government’s consultations on its 2nd action plan to combat poverty and social exclusion, to voice a strong message that poverty is an issue which can no longer be ignored;
• Joining and taking a lead in the Coalition pour l’accessibilité des services des CLE (CASC) to improve services for people receiving welfare;
• Developing of a list of locally-generated needs and solutions regarding poverty; and following-up with Raymond Bachand, our local MNA and Quebec minister of Finance, throughout the winter, including by meetings and visits to his constituency office. Participating with the wider community in response to the regressive budget measures announced.
The Housing Committee: improving living conditions by ...
Alexander Hoare, Outreach team volunteer member.
• Participating in the Montreal Public Consultation Office’s consultation on the development of the Namur/Jean-Talon sector of Côte-des-Neiges. Continuing to work on this issue with the Côte-des-Neiges/Nôtre-Dame-de-Grace Borough Council. Contributing to wider coalition activities for substantial increases in government investments to develop new social housing units;
• Increasing the pressure on the Rental Board to reduce the excessive length of time – now over 17 months on average – that tenants must wait for a hearing. Ongoing organizing with tenants directly affected by this problem and increasing the number of activities on housing issues to encourage local residents’ participation in our work;
• Continuing our collaborative research, analysis and action to improve the enforcement of the housing code by the City of Montreal and the Borough of CDN/NDG.
Rocco Dellerba with a Storefront service user.
The Storefront offers information, referral and individual advocacy on social and economic rights. Its work is primarily on tenant’s rights, recourses and responsibilities, and on basic income and income supplement programs, including pensions, welfare and family allowances.
In the past year, 60 volunteers, 10 student interns and a handful of staff provided over 10,500 in-person interventions with people of over 135 countries of origin. The over 10,500 in-person interventions we provided this past year represent an 8.5% increase over the previous year. A significant part of this increase can be attributed to our in-person interventions with people applying for welfare or facing difficulties accessing welfare. In addition, an estimated 9,500 interventions were provided over the phone.
Over the past three years the Storefront has experienced an over 23% increase in our in-person interventions.
This is a sign of the continued erosion and inaccessibility of public programs and services.
Times have been, and continue to be, exceedingly harsh for many individuals and families.
The Storefront team has been faced with an increasing workload. The organization as a whole is rising to this challenge to help ensure the sustainability of staff and of the services.
Home Advocacy Services: Coming to you when you need us to
“Tenants, who are the majority, often don’t know what to do or who to turn to. So it’s up to us, who do know, to make things better, to help protect tenants. Teach people to stand up for themselves. Give people confidence. People helping people.”
— Daren Laine, Project Genesis member
Our relatively small yet crucial Home Advocacy Services (HAS) program enables Côte-des-Neiges/Snowdon residents with mobility challenges (people with a disability, people who are frail and elderly, and so on) to access our Storefront services by bringing the services to their home.
• 189 interventions were offered within the HAS program this past year;
• Assistance to service users was in a dozen different areas, including housing issues, income taxes, pensions and welfare issues;
• Hundreds of pamphlets about the HAS program services were distributed by Project Genesis and by other local community organizations that work with the elderly and those who are homebound;
• During the past year, there was effective integration of HAS with other Project Genesis programs and services, including the Storefront and the Outreach door-knocking program.
Our individual services give us the pulse of our community and keep us aware of its needs. The committed work of our team often, for example, makes the difference between keeping or losing one�s apartment, and between receiving or being denied pension benefits or welfare. Mr. Rosario (a modified name) is a concrete example of what we have accomplished again this year.
In early 2010, Mr. Rosario received a notice that his landlord was taking steps to evict him.
Residing in his familiar ground-floor Côte-des-Neiges apartment for almost 20 years, Mr. Rosario is blind and lives on a low income. A volunteer advisor of Project Genesis explained to him his rights and options. We found a housing lawyer who accepts legal aid mandates, as well as a volunteer to go with Mr. Rosario to meet the lawyer to prepare.
At his Rental Board hearing, it was determined that the landlord had not proven his case and would not be permitted to evict Mr. Rosario. We breathed a shared sigh of relief.